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Aug. 10 Public Meeting set to receive input on John Barkley Plaza area in Shawnee Mission Park
POSTED: 07/28/2017
Public input on development of the area near the front of Shawnee Mission Park where the John Barkley Visitors Center previously stood will be sought during a public meeting in early August.

The Johnson County Park & Recreation District will conduct this Public Meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, in the Sunflower Room of the JCPRD Administration Building located at 7900 Renner, Shawnee and Lenexa.

The former visitors center was removed late last year following the mid-2016 opening of a major addition to the administration building, which allow it to take on the park police headquarters and visitor’s services function previously in the other building.

That area, which is now a grassy open space west of the flagpole, is being called John Barkley Plaza after Barkley, who led the original effort to purchase property for Shawnee Mission Park and who served as the park district’s first superintendent during its developing years from 1958 to 1963. Barkley is also the only Congressional Medal of Honor winner to call Johnson County home, having won the medal for action in World War I.
With public input from the Aug. 10 meeting, the design team of Confluence landscape architects and PGAV Architects, both of Kansas City, Mo., will develop two preliminary concepts for the plaza area. It is expected one of these will be considered for approval by the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners. No funding for implementation of a design for the area has been allocated at this time.
“This meeting will allow the public to provide their thoughts and ideas for the main park entry prior to the development of the preliminary concept plans,” said Project Manager Megan Merryman. “The consultants met with staff, they’ve met with the board, and now it’s time to find out what the public would like to see included in that space. The consultants have a voting system that’s electronic and they’ll have images on the screen and participants can vote for the style, materials, elements, and art that they like. This information will then help to drive the development of the concept plans.”

It has yet to be determined if the existing stone walls in the area will remain or not.

“We have asked that the flagpole remain somewhere in the space, not necessarily that flagpole, but a flagpole, and the existing plaques on the walls be incorporated into the new space,” Merryman said.

The three plaques currently in the area include one marking the park’s 1964 dedication, another honoring Barkley and his wife, Marguerite, and a third commemorating “Kojack,” the Johnson County Park Police’s first patrol horse.

Other possibilities which have been discussed for the area include a shade structure to serve as a gathering place, public art, and a water feature.

After the Public Meeting, consultants will return with two concepts for the John Barkley Plaza, and another public meeting to help refine designs for the area is anticipated, but no date has been set at this time.

Officials anticipate a final presentation on designs for the area will take place during the board’s October or November regular meeting.

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